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Thursday, June 22, 2006

Cell Phone As Gaming Controller?

Researchers are turning cell phones into motion-detection game controllers similar to Nintendo's new Wii device.

In a recent demonstration, the Human Interface Technology Laboratory in New Zealand used a pair of Nokia Series 60 phones in a game of AR Tennis.

Play takes place on the video displays of mobile phones, overlaid with a virtual tennis court of the space between the players. A piece of paper laid out on a table serves as the framework for the virtual game space, and Bluetooth is used to synchronize the ball movement between the phones.
-- Next Game Controller: Your Phone

A Wii Phone? Interesting. My only complaint is that it seems like we're skipping a few steps here. The article ends:

"I think the real win will be games that aren't knockoffs of things we already 'know' how to do, since they will have the advantage of actually being designed to the strengths of the interface," MacIntyre said.

Yeah, OK. It's just that I've got a pretty decent cell phone and I gotta say ... most cell phone games suck something hard. So when you have a version of Monopoly Tycoon that you can win by not really playing, I'm not real sure the mobile industry does "know" how to do knock-offs. Did I mention that in my version of Sims 2 Mobile, my sim is a green bisexual who just married and divorced the same guy five times in a night to try and get a profit?

Worse, I could totally use phones as a normal old gaming controller right about now. I'm poking with casual interfaces on the Apple and the closest I'm coming up with is a PS2 controller shoved into a USB interface. I've considered trying to use the excellent Sailing Clicker to implement a cell phone as a controller ... but I don't think I can get two player support that way. So when I read this headline, I'm hoping for some kind of software package that might support what I need ... but instead there's just a bunch of people trying to leapfrog into the next great thing.

Not that it doesn't sound grand, it's just ... baby steps people ... baby steps. Last thing I need is a virtual tennis game on my cell phone that I can win without swinging.

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